Doctors: 21 percent of medicine defensive

Feb. 22, 2010 at 12:42 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Physicians who say they practice defensive medicine in the last 12 months characterized 21 percent of their practice as defensive, a U.S. study indicated.

The study by Gallup for Jackson Healthcare found physicians generally estimate defensive medicine costs are higher overall when compared to their own personal practice.

Physicians attribute an average of 26 percent of overall costs to defensive medicine, while 13 percent said they believe the practice constitutes 50 percent or more of the cost, the study found.

Of the physicians surveyed, 73 percent agreed they had practiced some form of defensive medicine in the past 12 months. Twenty-three percent of practicing physicians estimated defensive medicine constitutes less than 10 percent of their practice while 29 percent estimated the percentage to be between 10 percent and 25 percent.

Defensive medicine was defined as "the practice of diagnostic or therapeutic measures conducted primarily not to ensure the health of the patient but as a safeguard against possible malpractice liability."

Results are based on telephone interviews -- conducted in December and January -- with 462 randomly selected U.S. physicians. No further survey details were provided.

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